Pictured: Japhet McNeil
Aug. 29, 2005
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- Highlighted by seven games against 2005 NCAA Tournament participants, including a road date at Wake Forest, East Carolina released its 2005-06 men's basketball schedule Monday. The schedule includes 15 home dates marked by appearances from Houston, Memphis and the return of in-state rival UNC Wilmington.
"Our schedule is one we feel that will be very challenging for our young team, but one in which we think our team will be very competitive," stated Pirate head coach Ricky Stokes, who is in his first year on the ECU bench. "It's a very exciting time to be in Conference USA with the new members and we're looking forward to playing quality competition throughout the season."
The Pirates will play 14 Conference USA games, opposing all 11 conference foes once each and then play its "mirror opponents" home-and-home. East Carolina's "mirror opponents" for the 2005-06 season are Marshall, Tulane and UCF. The Pirates and Thundering Herd of Marshall will be renewing their series for the first time in 30 years, while UCF returns to the docket for the first time since 2001.
East Carolina opens Conference USA play at home against Memphis on January 11. Other C-USA foes visiting Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum include: first-time guests SMU (Jan. 18) and Tulsa (Jan. 28), along with Houston (Feb. 4), Marshall (Feb. 18) and Tulane (Feb. 25).
The newly aligned C-USA furnishes ECU the opportunity to make its first expedition to UTEP (Jan. 14) and Rice (Feb. 15). Each former Western Athletic Conference member is appearing on the Pirates' schedule for the first time. Other conference road games include trips to Tulane (Jan. 21), Marshall (Feb. 1), UAB (Feb. 11), UCF (Feb. 22) and Southern Miss (March 4).
The Pirates begin their first season under Stokes with three consecutive home games. ECU open the campaign against North Carolina A&T on November 18 before hosting Gardner-Webb (Nov. 22).
ECU then welcomes Wofford on Saturday, November 26 in the first of successive games against the Terriers. The Pirates will then travel to Spartanburg, S.C., the following Wednesday, November 30, to face-off with Wofford again. Wofford is one of three Southern Conference opponents on the schedule as ECU also welcomes UNC Greensboro (Dec. 6) and Western Carolina (Dec. 10) to Minges Coliseum. UNCG returns to the Pirates' schedule for the first time since 2001, while WCU is making its first visit to Greenville since 1994. Before hosting UNCG, ECU will journey to Norfolk to rekindle its long-standing rivalry with Old Dominion (Dec. 3).
After playing its final home game of the fall semester against WCU, the Pirates will travel to Winthrop (Dec. 18) and Toledo (Dec. 21) before heading home for the Christmas Break.
Upon their return, the Pirates will welcome its first of two Division II opponents to town on Dec. 28 as they host Limestone before welcoming former Colonial Athletic Association rival UNC Wilmington back to Minges Coliseum for a New Year's Eve afternoon clash. The Pirates and Seahawks haven't met since ECU departed the CAA to become a member of C-USA in 2001-02.
The Pirates begin 2006 with a rendezvous in Winston-Salem with Wake Forest. It'll be the first meeting between the two schools since Feb. 5, 1986 and the first of a four-game series between the two schools that includes one game in Greenville. The Demon Deacons have won all three previous meetings between the two schools.
ECU will host North Carolina Central in its only exhibition game of the season Saturday, November 12.